Seasoned cast iron means that oil is baked onto the cast iron, allowing the cookware to achieve a classic black patina appearance. But how can you tell if the cast iron is seasoned poorly? And can it still be fixed?
The easiest way to test the seasoning of a cast iron skillet is to fry an egg. The skillet is poorly seasoned if you encounter major sticking on the pan. It is not supposed to experience any sticking issues if it is well seasoned.
A poorly seasoned skillet can still be fixed by removing the old seasoning with steel wool. Make sure the pan is washed and dried before applying a thin layer of oil using a towel. Then, heat it in the oven for at least an hour at 500°F.
Read on to learn more about how to identify and fix a poorly seasoned cast iron.
Poorly Seasoned Cast Iron – How to Tell and Fix
Fry an Egg to Test the Cast Iron Skillet’s Seasoning
A convenient way of testing the seasoning of a cast iron skillet is to fry an egg. The skillet is poorly seasoned if you experience major sticking on the pan. It is not supposed to have any sticking issues if it is well seasoned.
A poorly seasoned skillet can still be addressed by removing the old seasoning with steel wool. The pan must be washed and dried before applying a thin layer of oil using a towel. Then, heat it in the oven for at least one hour at 500°F.
What Is Seasoning
To understand what poorly seasoned cast iron is, it is best first to understand what seasoning means. Seasoning refers to a thin layer of oil applied evenly onto the hot cast iron.
When the oil bonds with the metal, the pan will achieve a non-stick surface. A non-stick pan will help you control heat when cooking.
What Happens If You Don’t Season Cast Iron Properly?
Have you been using a seasoned cast iron skillet for a long time? If yes, you have probably noticed it flaking off. Occasionally, a newly seasoned pan flakes if you are cooking acidic foods. These include foods high in citric acid, such as tomato-based.
The side wall of the cast iron typically flakes off due to the oil trickling down to the bottom of the pan during the seasoning process.
How to Fix a Poorly Seasoned Cast Iron
The step-by-step process for fixing a poorly seasoned cast iron includes the following:
- Remove Flaking from the Cast Iron
- Preheat the Oven and Rub Oil onto the Skillet
- Get Rid of Excess Oil After Seasoning
- Heat the Cast Iron
- Remove Excess Oil
Let’s briefly discuss each one of them:
1. Remove Flaking from the Cast Iron
Fixing a poorly seasoned cast iron means re-seasoning it. But before re-seasoning, it is essential to remove the flaking first. You will need a lint-free cloth and regular table salt to do this.
Put enough table salt on a lint-free cloth and rub it all over the skillet. The salt will effectively remove the flakes without damaging the skillet’s other well-seasoned parts.
Do this until the flaking is entirely removed or until the cast iron becomes smooth. In this case, you may start wiping off the table salt from the skillet.
2. Preheat the Oven and Rub Oil onto the Skillet
By this time, you should already be done removing flakes from the cast iron. In this case, you may proceed with re-seasoning the skillet. Start by preheating your oven to 375. It should not be a problem if you do not have an oven. You can instead preheat your grill or even your stovetop.
The next thing to do is to pour enough grapeseed oil on a lint-free cloth which you will rub into the bottom and sides of your skillet. Make sure, though, that all excess oil will be removed.
3. Get Rid of Excess Oil After Seasoning
It is essential to get rid of all excess oil after seasoning. If you fail to do this, you will have sticky cast iron.
This means you must prevent the oil from trickling down the skillet’s sides and bottom. You can achieve this by placing the skillet upside down on an aluminum foil or a cookie sheet inside the oven.
4. Heat the Cast Iron
Once you have successfully done the first three steps, you may proceed with heating the cast iron. In doing this, you may use an oven, a grill, or a stovetop.
If you have an oven, you may heat the cast iron inside at 375°F for approximately one hour.
Then, once done, you may turn the heat off and let the skillet and the oven cool down.
It is alright if you do not have an oven. You can instead use a grill and heat it as close to 375°F as possible. Similarly, heat the cast iron for about 45 minutes to one hour.
Then, let both the cast iron and the grill cool down.
You may also use a stovetop if you do not have an oven or a grill. However, you will have to use a stockpot, a metal washtub, or an oven-proof bowl, which has to be larger than the cast iron. It is also possible to make use of aluminum foil.
The next step is to preheat the burner and produce medium heat. Also, ensure that you can make an airtight covering for the skillet. Doing so will trap heat inside, creating an oven-like atmosphere. This will effectively bond the oil with the cast iron.
Heating the skillet upside down will let the oil bond with the skillet, preventing flaking in the future. It is good to practice this regularly.
5. Remove Excess Oil
Once the cast iron cools, the next step is removing excess oil to avoid residue.
The good thing about cast iron is that it is durable. This is why it is essential to maintain its slickness and smoothness.
Why Does My Cast Iron Look Rusty After Seasoning?
After seasoning, you might notice that the cast iron looks bronze or has a brownish tint. You might initially think it is rust, but it is not. It is the patina baking in. The brownish tint will eventually be gone after re-seasoning it several times.
Also, if you keep using the skillet, it will eventually produce a black finish.
Bare cast iron is typically gray. It will produce a bronze color if you season it for the first time. The initial seasoning is insufficient to carbonize the cast iron and turn the pan completely black.
If your skillet appears bronze or brownish, it is still polymerized. Your skillet is not rusty, and it is wonderful to use. Use it often and season it repeatedly, eventually producing a black patina.
Also, it is essential to remember that your skillet’s performance is more important than its appearance.
Again, how to tell if you have poorly seasoned cast iron? To know whether you have poorly seasoned your cast iron, you have to fry an egg over medium heat for three minutes. The egg will not stick to your skillet if you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
What Is a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet?
A Lodge cast iron cookware is ideal not only for chefs and home cooks but also for beginners. It impressively matches any modern kitchen cooktop. It can also handle the heat coming from an open campfire.
You do not need to season or re-season with Lodge cast iron cookware. Its manufacturer applies a layer of oil onto the surface. Then, they use a large oven for baking the cast iron at a high temperature. They make sure that the cookware is well seasoned before leaving the foundry.
Suffice to say that the Lodge cast iron cookware is pre-seasoned, not to mention well-seasoned, and ready to use:
Frequently Asked Questions – Poorly Seasoned Cast Iron
Here are some frequently asked questions about poorly and well-seasoned cast iron:
What Happens If Cast Iron Is Not Seasoned?
It is essential first to understand the importance of seasoned cast iron. Seasoning lets your pan release food conveniently and clean it up quickly. It does not get easily damaged because it will remain rust- and stain-free.
There are cookware manufacturers that offer pre-seasoned cast iron skillets. These products feature a non-greasy, smooth, and softly lacquered surface.
How Can You Tell If Cast Iron Is Ruined?
Check if your old cast iron has cracks or holes in it. Also, check if it is wobbly or warped. If you notice these signs, it is time to let go of it.
Is Unseasoned Cast Iron Safe?
Using unseasoned cast iron is pretty safe. However, cooking in it is not as convenient as cooking in a seasoned one. An unseasoned cast iron skillet takes a longer time to heat up. Also, it is possible not to achieve proper heat.
What Does an Unseasoned Cast Iron Look Like?
An unseasoned cast iron pan will always have a rough feel and rough look until it becomes adequately seasoned. A properly seasoned cast iron skillet is smooth, shiny, and black.
It is important to remember, too, that well-seasoned cast iron cookware is different from non-stick or stainless steel cookware.
How Do You Fix Uneven Seasoning on Cast Iron?
The uneven seasoning on cast iron produces patches and splotches. This results from excessive oil used during the seasoning process. You may address this by scouring the skillet using steel wool to eliminate the old seasoning. Wash and dry the skillet afterward.
The next step is to rub a thin layer of oil on the skillet using a towel. Then heat it in the oven at about 375 to 500 degrees for approximately one hour.
Can You Ruin a Cast Iron?
A cast iron pan is impressively durable. However, it is essential to remember that, like any other durable product, it is not indestructible. You can ruin its seasoning, and it is even possible for you to damage the skillet ultimately.
It can last very long if you don’t abuse your cast iron cookware. Clean it and season it regularly to maintain its tip-top condition.
Should I Oil My Cast Iron after Every Use?
To get your cast iron skillet’s best performance, it is ideal to regularly oil it right after you use it. But if you use it daily, oiling it at least three times a year is already enough.
Your cast iron skillet is well seasoned if it is noticeably dark and shiny.
What Is the Best Oil to Season Cast Iron?
Any cooking oil or fat is ideal for seasoning cast iron. However, Lodge recommends specific oils such as canola oil, melted shortening, or vegetable oil.
How Do You Fix a Sticky Cast Iron Pan?
A sticky cast iron pan may mean an excessive oil build-up on the cookware. To address this, place the pan in an oven. Make sure that it is positioned upside down.
Then, bake it at about 375 to 500°F for approximately one hour. Then, wait for the pan and the oven to cool. You may repeat the process if necessary.
Why Is My Cast Iron Black When I Wipe?
The cast iron appears black when wiped due to carbon deposits. This may result from overheating oils and fats. If you use oil with low smoke, it will most likely carbonize at high temperatures.
This results in residue from the pores of the skillet rubbing off on the food. This may look unappealing, but a small amount of it is not expected to have any effect.
How Do I Know If My Cast Iron Is Seasoned?
A correctly seasoned cast iron appears dark has a semi-gloss finish and does not feel greasy or sticky when touched. It does not have dry or dull patches and does not have rust. The most convenient way to tell if your cast iron is properly or poorly seasoned is by frying an egg.
If you encounter any sticking issues, then your skillet is poorly seasoned. But if you do not experience any sticking issues, then it is properly seasoned.
Should Cast Iron Be Smooth or Rough?
A cast iron pan can either be smooth or rough. In essence, it is all based on your personal preference. Rougher cast iron with a pebbly surface is more convenient to season.
An oiled cast iron skillet may require a little more work and time to season. Either way, it is possible to season both types of cast iron properly.
Is Cast Iron Cooking Healthy?
Cast iron cooking is also healthy as it is not all about frying.
Dietitian and nutrition coach Kerri Ann Jennings said that the ability of cast iron cooking to maintain heat is related to healthy cooking.
You can use cast iron cookware to do different cooking, such as poaching, braising, grilling, and broiling. These cooking methods do not require you to use that much oil.
Is It OK to Use Steel Wool on Cast Iron?
Yes, you may use steel wool on cast iron. Fine-grade steel wool is ideal for scouring the cast iron’s surface to eliminate rust spots and burned food particles. After cleaning the cast iron with steel wool, you can wash the pan with mild soap and hot water, if necessary.
Why Is Food Sticking in My Cast Iron Skillet?
Even if your cast iron skillet is seasoned correctly, you may still encounter food sticking issues. For instance, it will most likely stick if you use only a tiny amount of fat when cooking. Also, if the food has a very high sugar content, you will most likely experience sticking issues.
Is Olive Oil OK for Seasoning Cast Iron?
While there are many types of oil that you can use for seasoning cast iron, avoid using olive oil. Avoid using butter too. Olive oil and butter are ideal for cooking but not for the initial seasoning.
In Closing: How to Tell and Fix Poorly Seasoned Cast Iron?
To reiterate, the easiest way to test the seasoning of a cast iron skillet is to fry an egg. The skillet is poorly seasoned if you experience major sticking on the pan. It is not supposed to encounter any sticking issues if it is well seasoned.
You can still fix a poorly seasoned skillet by removing the old seasoning with steel wool. Ensure that the pan is washed and dried before applying a thin layer of oil using a towel. Then, heat it in the oven for at least an hour at 500°F.
It can be either way if you’re unsure whether a cast iron skillet should be rough or smooth. It all boils down to your personal preference.